Rats haunting storm drains a tough problem for the city
Question: I walk every morning between 6 and 6:30 on the Diamond Head side of Kapahulu Avenue, where Castle Street and Kanaina Avenue intersect.
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Question: I walk every morning between 6 and 6:30 on the Diamond Head side of Kapahulu Avenue, where Castle Street and Kanaina Avenue intersect. It’s a guarantee I will see rats at this corner, running in and out of the storm drain, across the sidewalk or onto the road. Which agency addresses this?
Answer: Municipal streets, including storm drains, sidewalks and garbage cans at TheBus stops, are maintained by the city Department of Facility Maintenance. The section of Kapahulu Avenue you described is a city street, and therefore under DFM jurisdiction.
DFM Director Ross Sasamura said the department tries to curtail rats on city property, but that storm drains pose a special challenge. No toxic agents can be used, because they empty into the ocean. Here is his full response:
“The Department of Facility Maintenance utilizes rodent control measures to address situations where rodents inhabit properties under DFM jurisdiction and may impact public health and safety.
“The DFM has and will continue to work with the State of Hawaii Department of Health Vector Control agency to identify control measures and strategies when appropriate and possible. It is difficult to address issues with the city storm drain system when rodents use the associated pipes and catch basin inlets as the means to access potential sources of food.
“Since our city storm drains ultimately empty into the ocean, it is not prudent or possible for the DFM to utilize any toxic rodent-control measures there. Our strategies have largely focused on preventing the rodents from accessing food sources in city litter cans by deploying proven designs manufactured of steel, with rodent- deterrent design features.
“Residents and visitors can help us deter the spread of rodents by ensuring any food waste is properly disposed of and/or held within properly designed and constructed containers, with lids that deter access until the time of collection. It is also important to pick up and properly dispose of fallen fruit (such as mangoes and bananas) as quickly as possible to eliminate that potential attractant and food source.”
We also checked with the Health Department. Spokeswoman Janice Okubo said it offers advice, but not the actual rodent-control service. Here is her full response:
“The Hawaii State Department of Health educates and informs the public about ways to prevent rat and mice infestations and advises businesses, agencies and people about the best way to address rodent problems. The Department of Health does not provide pest-control treatment. In the event that a home, business or other property requires pest-control services, owners are advised to contact a licensed pest-control company. If you own or manage a licensed facility in Hawaii, your first responsibility upon observing rats or mice is to contact a pest-control company to help you evaluate and get rid of the problem. Rats and mice remain in a location and multiply due to food, water and shelter. Removing food, water and shelter — along with … trapping and baiting — is the best way to eliminate an infestation.
“The Legislature approved additional vector control positions for DOH during the 2016 legislative session. These positions will be located in Vector Control programs across all islands. It will take some time to re-establish the Vector Control program and update the rules and procedures for program operations. DOH plans to request additional positions in the upcoming session to fully staff the program and will be working to reorganize the program, recruit and fill positions over the next several months.”
I’d like to thank the person who was walking his dog along Hoolaulea Street in front of my house and stopped to come to my door and told me my water was running from the garden hose. The water had been on all night without anyone noticing it. He said he became water-aware because he had once experienced a huge loss of water due to an undetectable leakage problem. I was so embarrassed about my absentmindedness that I forgot to ask his name. — From a grateful senior.
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